Sonny Angara on raising the salary of teachers

Senatorial candidate Sonny Angara claimed during the April 28 ABS-CBN Harapan 2013 Senatorial Debate that he had pursued bills on education, particularly concerning the raising of teachers' salaries from P 14,000 to P 18,000 in the year 2008.  

Based on records in Congress, Sonny Angara is the principal author of House Bill 00395 (An act upgrading the minimum salary grade level of teachers from salary grade 10 to 19), which was filed during the first regular session of the 15th Congress in 2010 and not in 2008.

The bill provides that this change of salary grade level corresponds to an almost six thousand peso (P 6,000) increase in salary and not the four thousand pesos (P 4,000) he mentioned.  

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Risa Hontiveros on RH and other Advocacies

Two former party list representatives – Risa Hontiveros (Akbayan) and Teddy Casino (Bayan Muna) – participated in the first Harapan 2013 Senatorial Debates of ABS-CBN held at the La Consolacion College that was watched by millions of Filipinos nationwide through the facilities of the biggest television network.

Nationally recognized and often compared to each other, it would have been interesting to ask a common question to both candidates. Unfortunately, the luck of the draw gave the panelists - veteran journalists Linda Jumilla, Tony Velasquez, and myself - only three candidates each and I got Risa Hontiveros.

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Greco Belgica, flat tax, and the conversion of discretionary funds to tuition fee vouchers proposals

Greco Belgica, the youngest senatorial candidate in the Harapan 2013 Senatorial Debates, proposed the amendment of the National Internal Revenue Code in order to institute a system of flat taxation of income. While this has worked, mostly in countries in the previous Soviet Union, this might meet questions of constitutionality in the Philippines given its possible lack of progressivity – meaning the tax rate does not increase as the taxable income increases.

Article VI, Section 28, paragraph 1 of the 1987 Constitution provides that Congress “shall evolve a progressive system of taxation”. While this is not a death sentence to his proposal, he surely needs to argue (like this guy that in the context of the Philippines, a flat tax system of taxation is progressive.

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Bal Falcone’s securitization proposal and its possible implications

Senatorial candidate Baldomero Falcone said during the Harapan 2013 Senatorial Debat that he will “ teach securitization to all [local governmeent officials]…so that we’ll have an economic reconnaissance all over the countryside”.

While securitization is neatly defined by as “[t]he process through which an issuer creates a financial instrument by combining other financial assets and then marketing different tiers of the repackaged instruments to investors”, its definition is still being debated (for instance, and due to the inherent complexity of the securitization process.

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Christian Señeres and his legislative track record

Christian Señeres, a representative of Buhay Partylist from 2003-2007, declared his
opposition to capital punishment in the Harapan 2013 Senatorial Debate. He claimed in this debate that he filed a bill to repeal the death penalty.

Records from the House of Representatives confirm that Señeres was one of the authors of
RA 9346, the “Act prohibiting imposition of death penalty in the Philippines”. Filed as House Bill 4826 in the thirteenth congress, Señeres was one of the over one hundred legislators that supported the bill.

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Penson’s position on a political dynasty law

In the Harapan 2013 Senatorial Debates last 28 April, UP Professor J. Prospero De Vera asked independent senatorial candidate Ricardo Penson what he will do if he does not succeed in pushing Congress to enact a law implementing the constitutional provision against political dynasties.

In reply, Penson said the Supreme Court should be more proactive in fighting political dynasties. This comment can be viewed in the context of the petition he filed with the Supreme Court as the lead convenor of Krusada Kontra Dynasty to compel Congress to pass a law to implement the constitutional provision against political dynasties.

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Samson Alcantara on Political Dynasties and the Elderly

The second and final Harapan 2013 Senatorial Debates of ABSCBN last night included nine of the remaining candidates who took the challenge of subjecting themselves to public scrutiny in the last two weeks before the May 13 elections.   

With the same panel - veteran journalists Linda Jumilla, Tony Velasquez, and myself – in attendance, I started the question and answer portion of the show with senatorial candidate Atty. Samson Alcantara.

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Maceda and the Study Now Pay Later Program

Ernie Maceda, the senior statesman of the 2013 senatorial race has surprised me with his energy, grasp of issues, and well articulated advocacy for education throughout the gruelling campaign season.

Last night (April 21) in the ABS CBN Harapan 2013 Senatorial Debates at the La Consolacion College in historic Mendiola, I drew his name in the question and answer portion of the program where I was in a panel with veteran journalists Linda Jumilla and Tony Velasquez.

His platformincludes a proposal to radically increase scholarship grants with target tof 50% of all college students as grantees and a revival of the “Study Now Pay Later” program which was initiated, if I remember right, when I was a student in UP another lifetime ago.

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Mitos Magsaysay on Funding Higher Education

The high profile and well attended Harapan 2013 Senatorial Debates of ABSCBN last night brought together the most number of candidates (and their cheering supporters) at the grounds of the La Consolacion College in historic Mendiola.

Ten candidates from Team PNoy (Koko Pimentel, Jun Magsaysay, Bam Aquino, Risa Hontiveros), UNA (Mitos Magsaysay,  Ernie Maceda ), Kapatiran (JC de losa Reyes, Lito David, Marwin Llasos), Makabayan (Teddy Casino) and Ramon Montano battled it out in the close to two hour question and answer session. 

I joined veteran journalists Linda Jumilla and Tony Velasquez in the panel designated to question the candidates on their platform and advocacies. I drew Mitos Magsaysay as my first candidate.

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The Hagedorn Dynasty

ABS-CBN senior political correspondent Lynda Jumilla asked senatorial candidate Edward Hagedorn in the April 21 debate: “Bakit tatakbo ang inyong asawa? Kayo po ba ay nagtatayo ng dynasty sa Puerto Princesa?”

Hagedorn said no, and that it is only his wife, Maria Elena, running for a post as mayor, after much prodding from his constituents.

This, however, is not accurate.

What Hagedorn failed to mention was that his wife is running against Lucilo Bayron, the incumbent vice mayor and his wife’s brother-in-law.

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Political dynasties and dynastic candidates

All candidates in the Harapan 2013 senatorial debates on 21 April expressed support for an anti-dynasty bill, including “dynastic candidates” from Team PNoy such as Koko Pimentel, Jun Magsaysay and Bam Aquino.
Jun Magsaysay has been consistent with his stand on the subject. In various interviews and fora, Magsaysay has pushed for the passage of an anti-dynasty bill in the 16th Congress. The same is true for Koko Pimentel, who, in another forum, claimed that he is “80-90% ready” to pass an anti-dynasty bill.
Bam Aquino, on the other hand, considers the bill important to clarify the rules for candidates like him who are related to public officials. He made the same stand in another election forum in UP. In his earlier statements, however, Aquino refused to consider himself as party of a political dynasty but a member of family that is into public service.

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Is Casiño flip-flopping on divorce?

In the Harapan 2013: The Senatorial Debate held last 21 April 2013, Congressman Teddy Casiño expressed opposition to divorce; claiming instead that he authored a bill providing revisions for annulment to make it more accessible to ordinary citizens.

Research reveals that Casiño’s stand on the issue of divorce has shifted.  In several interviews, Casiño did not explicitly support either side, proposing that matters on divorce can be talked about. On the other hand, a survey conducted by CBCP-NASSA identified Casiño as supportive of divorce. He was also a co-author of House Bill 1799, otherwise known as the divorce bill.  Under the Makabayan coalition, Casiño, along with the principal author and Gabriela Women's Party Representative Luz Ilagan, filed the divorce bill.

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Escudero and his aversion to tax increase

In ANC’s Headstart, incumbent senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero claimed that ever since he began his political career in 1998, he never voted in favor of any bill that increases taxes.

There are four major tax laws passed since 1998. These are Value Added Tax Law (RA 8761), Expanded Value Added Tax Law (RA 9337), Sin Tax Law Reform Law of 2012 (RA 10351) and Abolition of Common Carriers Tax Act and Gross Philippine Billings Taxes (RA 10374).

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Teddy Casiño's Legislative Agenda

Congressman Teodoro “Teddy” Casino was asked in the Senatorial Debates of ANC dubbed as “Harapan 2013" held on February 5, 2013 about the most defining issue in the 2013 Elections and his strategies to generate jobs, among others. On the first, he replied poverty. He said that despite the economic growth the Philippines had achieved in 2012, still many remain poor. On the second, he mentioned lowering the cost of doing business; ensuring a dynamic agriculture and industrial sector; and supporting micro and small scale industries and social enterprises.

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Belgica's Flat Tax

In ANC’s Harapan 2013, senatorial candidate Greco Belgica of the Democratic Party of the Philippines strongly and bravely espoused the reduction of taxes on incomes through a flat tax system at the rate of 10%.

From its face value, the proposal seems to be simple and palatable especially for individual compensation income earners as it will drastically reduce taxes. Mr. Belgica, however, failed to discuss during the debates (perhaps for lack of time) the details of his proposal and the implications it will have on the current tax regime and the fiscal state of the Philippines. It is best that he articulates his proposal in any opportunity he has for greater clarity.

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Zubiri and the 600 bills

zubiri factcheckTHE CLAIM:

Former Senator Juan Miguel ‘Migz’ Zubiri placed 12th in the 2007 Senatorial Elections (only to resign in August 2011 following the electoral fraud charges against the Arroyo Administration that allegedly benefitted him). Following the Senate reorganization installing Senator Juan Ponce Enrile as Senate President in November 2008, Migz Zubiri was subsequently chosen as Senate Majority Floor Leader despite his being a first-term senator. Few expressed disappointment with his designation in view of his being new in the Senate and the pendency of a case before the Senate Electoral Tribunal challenging his election.  He served in such capacity until the end of the 14th Congress in June 2010.

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